cover image The Law of Love

The Law of Love

Laura Esquivel. Crown Publishing Group, $25 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-70681-7

This followup to Esquivel's bestselling Like Water for Chocolate is propelled by the same jolly, reckless storytelling energy that has won the Mexican author so many fans, but skimpy character development and a breathlessly byzantine plot keep bringing the novel up short. Composed in a tantalizing style of New Age-sci-fi-magical realism, the tale is set in the year 2200, when astroanalyst Azucena Martinez, who lives in Mexico City, has been permitted at last to meet her twin soul, Rodrigo Sanchez, the man with whom she is to experience the ecstasy of perfect romantic union. And not a moment too soon; not only is Azucena terribly lonely, but she has finally paid off all the karmic debts accumulated in her 14,000 past lives. Alas for her, Rodrigo is not as karmically pure, and the day after their night of bliss, he is framed for murder and deported to the penal planet of Korma. As it turns out, this is all part of a divine plan: Azucena's quest to be reunited with her lover sets in motion a chain of events that will lead to the restoration of the law of Love on planet Earth. Esquivel punctuates her narrative with full-color ""graphic novel"" segments (by Spanish artist Miguelanxo Prado). The book also includes an 11-track CD of Puccini arias that figure in the plot and some remarkable Mexican ""danzones,"" billed in the text as ""Intervals for Dancing."" In Azucena, Esquivel has created a delightfully feisty, unpretentious character; it is the reader's loss that neither she nor Rodrigo are ever fully developed, and that their love story is repeatedly upstaged by a fantastical setting and long-winded metaphysical discourse. First serial to L.A. Times Magazine. (Oct.)